Iraq Veteran's Plea for Peace

Friday, September 21st is the International Day of Peace; a day for us to reflect on peace and non-violence. As a veteran of the war in Iraq, this day carries, for me, a special meaning. For myself it is a solitary day, a day for me to reflect on the things I have done and seen. For me, it is a day for me to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

We see war on television; we suffer it in 30-second clips and sound bites, and like a fun-sized Halloween candy bar, we consume it quickly and move on barely affected by the things we have seen and heard. We watch our little TV war and react in a manner consistent with the things we have already decided. Some of us will reaffirm our support of military action; others of us will say, “Oh, that’s horrible,” and reaffirm our opposition to the war, but inside, nothing about us has truly been affected by the things we have just witnessed.

For some, the war is not on the television. For these people, these men, women, and children, the war is the life they live. For them, as it was for me, war is the smell of burning flesh, war is the screams of the dying, war is the recoil of a rifle, war is widows and orphans, and war is not glorious. When I see an image of Iraq on television, I think of two things, I think of my friends, living and dead, and I think of the smells. Diesel fuel, burning cars, dead bodies, gunpowder, these are the things that come to me when I see images of that place.

It is my wish that when others see these images, they are affected. That they will stop and recognize that this is not just on television. I hope that they will realize that there are people on the other side of the world, each person infinitely valuable and infinitely unique, people who will never see their wives or husbands again, people who will die having never held their children, people who have names and quirky habits, crooked smiles and funny laughs.

Think for a moment about what you can do to help our soldiers. What can you do to unite friends and families? What can you do instead of changing the channel or getting up and grabbing a snack from the fridge? Perhaps you can just sit there for a moment longer and remember that it is real. Let it make your day a little bit worse. Decide to do something about it.

There are many things you can do to move towards peace: write letters, join organizations with peace-minded goals, or talk to your friends. Let others know that supporting our troops means more than some yellow magnet, it means letting them come home to their families, it means providing them with quality mental and physical care when they come home, it means acting towards peace.

-Chris Rayl

Wichita State University College Democratic Socialists


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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)